Legal and sponsorship experts believe that stricken Northern Rock will be able to continue with its sponsorship deals and advertising plans following its nationalisation earlier this week because it is “appropriate” and “in the public interest”.
The comments come despite a barrage of criticism from politicians and football fans about the decision to temporarily nationalise it.
Protesters have argued that allowing Northern Rock to continue advertising and sponsorship activity, including its high-profile, five-year deal with Newcastle United FC, constituted an “unfair” commercial advantage, was not in the public interest and that the taxpayer was effectively funding the activity.
The Treasury has also come under attack for saying the bank will be run “commercially” and “at arm’s length”.
But Philip Circus, a partner at Lawmark, disagrees. He says: “It would be unfortunate if people tried to put legal obstacles in the way of Northern Rock successfully marketing itself, because that is not in the public interest.”
Director of the European Sponsorship Association Nick Johnson, who is also a partner at Osborne Clarke, adds: “The sponsorship is an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money, because it helps maintain the brand, which is one of Northern Rock’s key assets.”
He says the bank would be “losing out” if it were to abandon sponsorship activity, which also covers rugby, cricket and running.
The government has guaranteed Newcastle’s sponsorship will continue until at least the end of the season. The £25m agreement runs until 2010.